Thelmar, E – 07 A night that only Dante could adequately describe
Type of Spiritual Experience
She is rescued by two sisters who give her a bed for the night away from her flat.
A description of the experience
The Maniac – A Realistic Study of Madness from the Maniac’s Point of View – E Thelmar
Then followed a night that only Dante could adequately describe., No sooner had I laid head on the pillow than a voice began saying that the fiend which had seduced me in my lodging was coming here.
I started up in bed, and thought, “They said it got me last time because I was not resisting it. Well, I mean to be prepared for it this time. My will is stronger than any fiend's; it must be, because good is stronger than evil. I'll set my will against this fiend's!"
I said to Miss E., who was just getting into bed, “Don't lie down and go to sleep, I implore you! Sit up and pray with me! If you don't, something awful will happen to me."
She tried to soothe me, and get me to lie down, but nothing would induce me to do so. The voice of the fiend kept on saying, "As long as you keep awake and resist me with this force of will I cannot touch you, but immediately you fall asleep you will be in my power!"
For hours I sat up in bed, and made Miss E. sit up too, while I alternately prayed to God, or defied the fiend, aloud, in a perfect frenzy of mind. At intervals the fiend ceased threatening me, and feigned to have left, in order to entrap me into falling asleep in fancied security; but I knew this was only a ruse, and I never for one instant relaxed the tension at which I was keeping myself; for every time, after a short lull, it would invariably return suddenly. It always found me in the same state of tense, frenzied preparedness.
At last it said, "Oh! very well! Keep awake if you choose, or do what you choose-you are lost anyway. When you fall asleep, I have you instantly. You cannot keep awake always, if you do you will go mad. So in any case you are lost."
These words struck despair into my soul, but I said "I can keep awake for this one night anyway, and I will.".......................
And then shrieks, such as one might imagine a madwomen, who believed herself attacked by a fiend, might utter in her frenzies, went on and on, until, as it seemed to me, at last my own mind gave way.
Again those countless, yelling, mad voices shattered my brain, like exploding dynamite bombs; again I was fully aware that I had gone mad, and that knowledge was a mental agony such as no one can imagine.
I gave up the struggle, and lay back perfectly motionless upon the pillow, staring straight into vacancy with wide-open, glassy eyes, that felt to me as if they were half out of their sockets. This was at four o'clock in the morning, Miss E. says. She thought I intended to go to sleep at last, and she lay down herself and dozed off at intervals.
Each time she woke and looked at me I was lying in the same motionless attitude, with the same fixed, glassy stare. INSTEAD of my horrors being over, the very I worst of them were taking place as I lay there so silent and motionless.
As I have said, I was fully aware, from that indescribable shattering of my brain-substance by those screaming voices, that I had gone out of my mind. I lay there enduring this most frightful torment, physical and mental, and wondering to what asylum I had better -go and give myself up the next morning.